CHAMPION Smoken Up is set to make his fourth tilt at the group 1 $175,000 PETstock Ballarat Pacing Cup on Saturday night.
Melton trainer-driver Lance Justice told The Courier yesterday Smoken Up had pulled up “enormously” well after his second to The Gold Ace in Saturday night’s Shepparton Gold Cup.
Justice said the 11-year-old was an 80 to 90 per cent chance of lining up in Ballarat.
He said if Smoken Up drew well, he would be extremely hard to beat.
Age is proving no barrier for Smoken Up, who has taken his earnings past $3.5 million with a succession of highly impressive performances.
He has finished second in the Horsham, South Australian and Shepparton Cups in consecutive weeks since winning the Lightning Mile in track record time in Ballarat on Boxing Day.
Smoken Up first ran in the Ballarat Cup, coming fifth to Stunin Cullen in 2011.
He then ran third to Highview Tommy in 2012 and fourth to Mah Sish last year.
Smoken Up struggled to handle the home turn in each of those cup starts, but the track now has a steeper camber and, as he showed in his 1:53.1 time in the Lightning Mile, is now much more comfortable.
Cup nominations close today, with the field to be declared tomorrow at 8.30am.
RISING star Guaranteed remains unbeaten this campaign after a tough staying win at Shepparton harness races on Saturday night.
The outstanding four-year-old withstood a serious challenge from NSW pacer Two Eye See to again stamp himself as one of Victoria’s most exciting prospects.
Guaranteed ($1.30 favourite) did a power of work to outlast Two Eye See ($5), who as a two-year-old won his first six starts in 2009 by a half-head in a C6/better pace, 2190m.
Part of the powerful Smythes Creek stable of Emma Stewart, Guaranteed has the imposing record of 16 wins in 23 starts for almost $360,000.
His only previous starts this season had been a clean sweep (heat and final) of the group 2 Mount Eden 4yo Championship at Menangle on November 30.
BRED in the purple, Soho Tokyo ($3.50) scored on debut for Ballarat trainer-driver Michael Stanley in the $15,000 Shepparton 2yo Fillies’ Classic over 1690m.
By Bettors Delight, Soho Tokyo is a daughter of champion mare Pelicanrama, who raced in the United States after being a top-flight youngster for Peter Manning.
Pelicanrama won 55 races for $730,000 in stakes.